Jackson County students, generally speaking, performed above the state average in summative assessments in the 2017-2018 school year, but data showed performance dropped as grade level increased.

During the Jackson County Board of Education’s regular meeting Thursday, director of federal programs and assessment Tracy LeMasters gave a presentation on the county’s performance on standardized tests in 2017-2018.

In the 2017-2018 school year, the percentage of Jackson County students in grades 3-8 who were proficient in English Language Arts was consistently higher than the percentage of students proficient statewide (see accompanying chart). For example, 58 percent of Jackson County third-graders were proficient compared to 47 percent for the state. The gap was even higher in fourth grade with 60 percent of students proficient in Jackson County compared to 45 percent statewide.

Both the state’s and county’s percentage of proficient students decreased as the grade level increased, with the numbers dropping from around the high 50s to the low 40s for both state and county students in eighth grade.

The trends were similar in math, though with a narrower gap between the county and state’s numbers. For example, 48 percent of the state’s third-graders were math proficient, compared to 52 percent in Jackson County. Again, the percentage of proficient students decreased as grade level increased.

Trend data showed an upward climb in third- and fourth-grade ELA proficiency between 2015 and 2018 in the form of a bump from about 50 to 60 percent for both grade levels. The state averages remained stagnant during this same period at less than 50 percent proficient in both grades all four years.

Data showed a drop (from 56 percent to 49 percent) for the county’s fifth-graders during the same span of years. There was also a drop at the state level, from 51 percent to 44 percent during the same time frame.

While there was an increase for sixth-graders in ELA proficiency from 2015 to 2018, it was smaller, from 48 percent to 53 percent. State numbers remained relatively steady, between 43-46 percent during the same period.

There was a climb then a drop in ELA proficiency for seventh graders from 2015 to 2018, with the numbers going from 53 percent in 2015 to 57 percent in 2016 only to drop again in 2017 to 48 percent and another point to 47 percent in 2018. State percentages experienced a similar fluctuation.

That same span, from 2015-2018, saw similar movement for eighth-graders in ELA proficiency. Jackson County’s Eighth-graders started at 40 percent proficient in 2015 and climbed to 54 percent proficient in 2016. The numbers tapered off again to 48 percent proficient in 2017 to 43 percent proficient in 2018. State percentages showed a similar rise then fall.

Between 2015 and 2018 in third-grade math, the county saw a bump from 45 percent to 52 percent, with a similar bump reported statewide. There was a similar increase at both the state and county level for fourth-graders, with the numbers gaining 10 percent for both groups (42 percent to 52 percent for the county and 35 percent to 45 percent for the state).

Fifth-graders in Jackson County moved from 37 percent proficient to 45 percent proficient over the same four years, while the state saw a 10 percent increase from 30 percent to 40 percent. Sixth-graders in Jackson County became almost 10 percent more proficient in math during those four years from 2015-2018, jumping from 31 percent to 40 percent (the state’s numbers increased from 26 percent to 34 percent in that time frame).

The county’s seventh graders went from 27 percent proficient in 2015 to 33 percent proficient in 2018 (state numbers trended about the same).

Jackson County’s eighth-graders saw a big jump in math proficiency from 16 percent in 2015 to 31 percent in 2018. There was an increase from 25 percent to 32 percent on a state level for the same group in that time period.

At the secondary level, during the 2017-2018 school year, SAT School Day replaced the Smarter Balanced Assessment as the general summative assessment for high-schoolers. This was due to the concerns of secondary school administrators over the number of assessments administered to high-schoolers, as well as the need to link assessment to accessibility to higher education, LeMasters said.

Last year, 285 Jackson County 11th-graders took the SAT and only 12 percent met benchmarks for both for English and Math, while 32 percent met no benchmarks at all.

For English, 46 percent of 11th-graders in the county met their benchmarkes, 9 percent were listed as “approaching” and 45 percent were listed as “strengthening.” In math, 12 percent of the county’s 11th-graders met the benchmark, 8 percent were listed as “approaching and 80 percent were listed as “strengthing.”

At the state level in English and math, 21 percent out of 16,050 test takers met both benchmarks and 50 percent met no benchmarks. In English, 48 percent of the state’s test takers met the benchmark, 8 percent were listed as “approaching” and 44 percent were listed as “strengthening.” In math, 23 percent of the state’s SAT takers met the benchmark, 8 percent were listed as “approaching” and 69 percent were listed as “strengthening.”

There was a in increase from 46 percent proficiency in ELA in 2015 to 61 percent in 2016 for the state’s 11th graders, before a drop to 49 percent proficient in 2017 and again to 46 percent in 2018. The state’s numbers hovered around 50 percent from 2015-2017. The state data wasn’t presented for 2018.

In 11th grade mathematics proficiency, the numbers varied, moving from 15 percent in 2015 up to 21 percent in 2016 and 2017 and then down to 12 percent in 2018. State numbers were around 20 percent between 2015 and 2017. The numbers weren’t available for 2018 at the state level.